In the face of the increasing number of migrants, many migration and human rights defenders and civil groups have come out to champion their rights. These groups play a crucial role of protecting the rights of migrants and offering assistance to vulnerable groups. They also collaborate with governments to manage refugee challenges.
However, instead of rewarding their good work and supporting them, most governments are now laying excessive restrictions on the operations of migration and human rights defenders and civil society organizations.
Despite having an obligation to uphold their rights, these governments are unwilling and unable to protect migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers’ universal rights. This situation leaves these groups squeezed between an increased demand for their services and restrictive laws and hostile anti-immigrant discourse, thus sabotaging their work.
The rising tide of intolerance is evident in OHCHR’s report that disclosed the hostility facing human rights lawyers and civil society groups in Calais, France. These groups were barred from contacting their clients during the dismantling of a migrant settlement, the ‘jungle.’
In 2016, Michel Forst, a UN Special Reporter of Human Rights Defenders, addressed the issue of stigmatization, vilification and retaliation facing refugee rights defenders in Australia. In their statement to the UN Human Rights Council, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), highlighted the restrictions placed on accessing facilities that house unaccompanied migrant children in Serbia. Read more: About Lacey and Larkin- Frontera Fund
They also outlined concerns raised by civil society groups in Serbia that such limitations would have negative impact on their operations, thus adversely affecting the migrants. Other governments have implemented policies that criminalize assistance to migrants.
There is need to prioritize support for the groups that work to confront privilege, power, exclusion, and inequality. Adequate measures have been taken to neutralize the hostility and support towards human rights defenders and the civil society. ISHR has played a major role in ensuring that these groups operate freely.
The organization decided to prioritize the issue of advocates of migrant and refugee rights in its Strategic Framework 2017-2020. Principle 18 of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in the High Commissioner’s draft: Principles and Practical Guidance on Respecting Human Rights of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations also focuses on the protection of these groups.
Principle 18 requires the States to respect all groups working to protect human rights. It mentions that it is illegal to criminalize works of human rights defenders and holds the State and other stakeholders responsible for any hostility towards by these groups.
About Lacey & Larkin
Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund is a noble initiative launched by two journalists, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, in support of groups that advocate for human, civil, and migrant rights in Arizona. They use fund raised from the settlement of their arrest by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.
Lacey & Larkins were arrested in 2007 for exposing information about grand jury proceedings covering the Sheriff. The grand jury also sought the identities of individuals who read New Times articles about the Sheriff.
The duo sued the county. They were awarded $3.75 million in settlement by the United States Court of Appeals in the 9th circuit. Over the years, they have supported different groups such as American Immigration Council, Justice that Works, and Promise Arizona.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/12/16/proceeds-arpaio-suit-fund-asu-journalism-chair/20480479/